2016 Citroen C4 Exclusive: Week with Review

Does the 2016 Citroen C4 have the goods to challenge its top-selling small hatchback rivals? Mandy spends a week with one to find out…

In my role as the CarAdvice Correspondent, I've been lucky enough to sample some fairly diverse metal, but with the 2016 Citroen C4, things just keep getting better...

When I found out I would be spending a week with the five-seat French five-door, I thought it was going to be ‘just another hatchback’. I was about to be proven wrong.

It might not be quite as 'funky' as the new Citroen C4 Cactus, but my first impression of the 2016 Citroen C4 is that it looks fun.

Lit up under the lights of a North Melbourne service station, flecks in the Gris Platinum (grey) paint gleam, while the car’s moulded bonnet and door lines are pleasingly highlighted.

Being night time, the C4’s standard puddle lights are handy, as is the flagship Exclusive’s keyless entry and start.

I press the engine start button on the centre console, slide the six-speed automatic transmission into ‘Drive’, and all of a sudden, the Citroen starts making the most terrifying warning sound I’ve ever heard – like the world is coming to an end. After much confusion, I realise it’s because I didn’t shut my door properly. My bad.

If you’re a fan of in-car noises, though, the C4 also allows you to change the sound attached to the indicators. How cool is that? There are four ‘tones’ to choose from, though, I settle for the one that sounds like a ticking clock.

The multi-function leather steering wheel has all your audio and cruise controls on it, which is convenient, but by the time I get back home to Shepparton – around two and a half hours out of Melbourne – I find my hands are sore from gripping the slippery wheel. The indicator and wiper stalks, are also placed directly behind the wheel, making them difficult to see.

Priced from $33,990, the top-spec Citroen C4 Exclusive is $4000 dearer than the $29,990 entry-level Seduction. Both team a 96kW/230Nm turbocharged 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Regardless of variant, standard equipment includes LED daytime running lights, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, and rear privacy glass.

An ‘Automatic pack’, comprising automatic dual-zone air conditioning and auto headlights and wipers, means less distractions while driving, while Citroen’s six-year/90,000km warranty and six years capped-price servicing and roadside assist adds additional peace of mind.

On the road, the C4's small-capacity ‘PureTech’ turbo engine is gutsy.

Zipping through slower traffic on the freeways is fun and also safe, thanks to the Exclusive’s blind-spot monitoring. With an engine stop-start function on board, the C4 Exclusive claims 5.1 litres per 100km, though keep in mind, it does require premium unleaded fuel rather than regular unleaded.

The standard six-speed automatic is quick to respond and very smooth. Switch it into ‘manual’ mode – using the steering wheel-mounted gear-shift paddles to change gears when you want – and smiles get even wider.

The 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen is simple to use, but I found the fixed below-screen buttons (for vehicle data, sat-nav, media, phone, internet and settings) quicker and easier to access, than the system’s on-screen picture ‘buttons’.

There isn't a lot of storage up front, with only one cup holder in the centre console. Luckily, the C4 makes up for it with an impressive 408-litre boot – bigger than the top-selling hatches of the Toyota Corolla (280L), Mazda 3 (308L), Hyundai i30 (378L) and Volkswagen Golf (380L).

There is ample room in the back for kids, and the seats are largely as comfortable as the heated electric ones up front.

All around vision is good. The shape of the rear-view mirror neatly matches that of the back window, and the C4's overall design means there isn’t too much rake on the rear side windows either.

Every day I have with the C4, I cannot wait to get back into it, and it quickly feels like a ‘normal’ part of my life. It's one of those cars that makes you turn around and look twice at it after you’ve parked it at the shops. And it isn’t just me that’s impressed. Everyone I show it to is amazed when I tell them, “It's a Citroen”.

The French car maker is often forgotten among the likes of the Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3, Hyundai i30 and Volkswagen Golf – even playing second fiddle to its compatriot, the Peugeot 308. But I have to say, after spending a week with one, it’s definitely worth being noticed within the highly competitive world of hatchbacks.

The base Citroen C4 is a tad pricey compared with the circa-$20-25k starting point of some if its key rivals. But you do still get a fair amount for your money – except, of course, for a rear-view camera that commands an extra $1000 as an option.

The C4 Exclusive, however, is loaded with gear, including a rear-view camera, front and rear parking sensors, electric parking brake and 17-inch alloy wheels. It's also impossible not to open the standard panoramic glass roof to either let light into the cabin during the days, or the stars at night. Fitted with optional leather trim ($2500), the smell of our test car was another solid bonus.

The second-generation Citroen C4 may not be one of the segment’s top-sellers – far from in fact, with 107 units sold in 2015 compared with 42,073 Toyota Corollas – but it is a car that can surprise you, just like it surprised me.

Click on the Photos tab for more images by Mandy Turner.

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